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Hospitality – the Heart of Spiritual Direction

Today at Dayspring, I was welcomed, gathered, drawn in, nurtured and taught. From any perspective, a pretty singular experience.

What made this open retreat workshop with Jane Vennard such a gracious experience for me was its focus, its seamless mix of tender exploration and shaped reflection and its opportunities to speak again with valued colleagues in the Dayspring professional development community.

I was interested before I arrived (the notion of ‘hospitality’ in the helping professions has always cocked my eyebrow and set me thinking), so I didn’t require much warming to the topic. However, from the first, it became apparent to me that our agenda for the day, Hospitality – The Heart of Spiritual Direction, was one that genuinely engaged each of us there. We were enlivened. We sang. We called forth hunches, stories and questions about waking up to the mystery and action of God’s presence in human experience. We spoke together about the many dimensions of our call to hospitably accompany others into intimacy with what is Ultimate in their lives.

Jane’s proposal, that offering hospitality to God, to ourselves and to others in the ministry of spiritual direction must ultimately, somehow, come together as a preferred mindset, a preferred practice and a preferred modality, was provoking. The small groups I participated in wound wonderful critique and discussion around this thought. In satisfyingly random fashion, we considered how it might be if we became more conscious of God’s hospitality? If we were more alert , more receptive to its invitations? If we learnt more about and more forgivingly embraced the rhythms of our own hospitality? If we opened ourselves more to the risks of hospitality’s inherent transformations? If we dared to more frequently come as you are?

Thankfully, it didn’t feel to me that across today, many conclusions were reached. (And how good, how rare is that?!) But, inspired by the robust-delicate presence of Jane and an indelible, felt sense of ‘tribe’, I do feel pressed to wander again, soon, through my library and across the web in search of fresh ways to re imagine this thing called hospitality.

And I am not being at all naive in this intention. We’ve been warned! Hospitality …… it’s a long, long commitment! *

* Vennard, J. (2011). Hospitality – The Heart of Spiritual Direction. Dayspring

– Irena Harrison

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